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The Michigan Hangover: Notre Dame Football’s Silver Linings

“I hit him with a burrito.”

Notre Dame v Michigan Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Dear nondescript deity from wherever... that sucked. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish didn’t just get blown out by the Michigan Wolverines — they got knocked down a few pegs. Many of us felt the Irish were past this kind of national embarrassment, and that means many of us were dead ass wrong.

The Hangover

So what is there to look forward to this year? Like — really?

Before I continue, let me make it perfectly clear that in no way am I trying to pump a bunch of rainbows and sunshine down your throat. Saturday night was an abomination. It exposed Notre Dame’s many faults, and I’m not going to treat you like a bunch of children and tell you that everything is still okay as the house burns down around us. I do, however, want to make sure certain things are clear. None of it is going to change what happened, and it probably won’t change your opinion either. That’s fine... this just is what it is.

A top 10 finish is still possible

Notre Dame is currently ranked 16th, and if they win out, they have a fair chance to be ranked inside the top 10. Last year, the final rankings BEFORE the bowl games had four teams with multiple losses in the top 10 (#8 Michigan Wolverines 10-2, #9 Washington Huskies 9-3, #6 Georgia Bulldogs 11-2, 10 Florida Gators 9-3).

A double-digit win season for a 3rd year in a row is still possible

Again, if Notre Dame wins out there is a silver lining on the season. At 10-2 and a likely NY6 bowl bid, the Irish will have accomplished a double-digit win season for a third year in a row. The last time Notre Dame accomplished this feat was during the 1991. 1992, and 1993 seasons — however these two time periods shouldn’t be confused as similar runs.

  • 17-19: Notre Dame is 8-6 vs Top 25 teams with an 0-2 record against the Top 5. So far, they have one Citrus Bowl victory.
  • 91-93: Notre Dame was 9-5-1 vs Top 25 teams with a 4-1 record against the Top 5. They won the Sugar Bowl and two Cotton Bowls.

Notre Dame could still accomplish this feat even with one more regular season loss and a bowl victory. I repeat... this is great but not on the same level as 91-93.

Winning a New Years 6 bowl game

To keep with the theme... if Notre Dame wins out, they should still make a NY6 bowl game. It could be the Orange Bowl or it could be the Cotton Bowl. The Orange would likely have the #2 team from the ACC (whoever comes out of that mess) while the Cotton would put the Irish up against the best group of 5 team.

Even as bleak as things seem right now, those scenarios still would have the Irish as the favorite. Notre Dame hasn’t won a major bowl since the 1993/1994 Cotton Bowl against the Texas A&M Aggies. It would be a big deal to get that monkey off of their back and would cement a top 10 finish.

That’s it. That’s the list

No one really wants to hear about these things right now, and I don’t blame anyone for tuning out. Still, it’s what we have right now that seems even a little tangible. Roster moves and playcalling adjustments are too much a part of the unknown at this moment, and unless there is some hint of one or the other, I don’t know what to make of it.